SHEFFIELD - Halloween may look a little different this year, but The Ritz Theatre is keeping the season spooky with the radio play, The Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow. 

The Shoals community is invited to celebrate Halloween through the frightening tale of Ichabod Crane’s encounter with the menacing legend.  The recording of the radio play will be accessible at beginning the evening of Monday, October 26 through the Halloween weekend.  A pay-what-you-can donation 

is all that is required to stream the performance.  In addition to the play itself, there will be pumpkin patterns, recipes, sound-effect tutorials, and a painted pumpkin exhibit, so families and Halloween lovers can enjoy an entire Sleepy Hollow experience.

The radio play is an adaptation of Washington Irving’s classic short story, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, which celebrates its 200th anniversary this year. This family-friendly audio drama was written by playwright and sound effects artist Tony Palermo.  Suzanne Reese-Mills, the director of this local production, is excited that The Ritz has found a way to continue offering theatre to the community. The cast and crew are embracing the unfamiliar, both in medium and process.

“One of the more fun aspects is creating live sound effects,” said Reese-Mills. “I consider this production to be, not a return to an earlier time, but rather a step forward. We are adapting and bringing stories to audiences in more creative and less familiar ways.”

These sound effects include creaking doors, horse footsteps, and rustling leaves all created live during the recording. The Ritz will also be sharing instructions on how to recreate some sound effects at home so listeners can create their own spooky sounds along with the play.

“Our goal for The Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow is to make it the center of a community-wide Halloween celebration,” said Jennifer Butler Keeton, the marketing director of the Tennessee Valley Art Association, which runs both The Ritz and the Tennessee Valley Museum of Art. Restaurants Odette and Superhero Chefs will offer special themed menu items and local business sponsors are writing fun, creepy radio ads that will be performed by the actors during the recording.  These sponsors include Bank Independent, Listerhill Credit Union, Create Architects, and Singing River Dentistry.

Another exciting partner on this production is the actual town of Sleepy Hollow in New York which hosts several Headless Horseman-themed activities each fall.

There will be fun for everyone as part of the celebration. “You can come see our painted pumpkin exhibit at the Tennessee Valley Museum of Art throughout the month of October. The week of Halloween we’ll have several fun activities posted to our website and social media. We will also be sharing information about the history of the Headless Horseman legend.”

“We may not be able to get together for big parties this Halloween, but we’re working to throw Halloween parties in everyone’s homes so every family can celebrate. Folks won’t be just listening to a play, but they can really make a night of it,” Keeton said.

 “As the world has been forced to slow down in recent months, it’s nice to find ways to adapt and breathe life into the current reality of art-making,” added Reese-Mills. “I hope audiences will enjoy this opportunity to hear this fun and spooky classic in the comfort of their own homes.”

For more information about this and other projects from the Tennessee Valley Art Association, visit or call 256-383-0533.